#BaltimoreRiots: Is the term 'thug' inappropriate?

The term "thug" has been used by both President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore to describe rioters who turned violent in the city's streets earlier this week, but use of the word has some leaders and many on social media in an uproar.

During a press conference amid the riots Monday night, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake referred to participants as "thugs." Here is what she said (CLICK THE VIDEO ABOVE TO WATCH HER COMMENTS):

"It is very clear that there's a difference between what we saw last week with the peaceful protests… those who wish to seek justice, those who wish to be heard, and want answers-- and the difference between those protests, and the thugs, who only want to incite violence and destroy our city."

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word "thug" as "a violent criminal."

But on Tuesday, Rawlings-Blake took a step back when she said, "There are no thugs in Baltimore," while meeting with members of the clergy at a church. "Sometimes, my own anger translator gets the best of me," she added.

Then, Rawlings-Blake took to Twitter on Wednesday to apologize.

"I wanted to clarify my comments on ‘thugs.' When you speak out of frustration and anger, you can say things in a way that you don't mean," she tweeted, adding, "That night we saw misguided young people who need to be held accountable, but who also need support. And my comments didn't convey that."   

The clarification by Rawlings-Blake came after some of her fellow city leaders argued the word is racially charged. In an interview Tuesday night, Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes suggested that instead of calling them "thugs," the mayor may as well have used the n-word.

President Barack Obama also called the rioters "criminals and thugs" in his response to the situation. "My understanding is you've got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of protesters — a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place," Obama said.

Rawlings-Blake has come under fire in recent days for her response, or lack of, to the tense situation on the city's streets, and for comments she made in the wake of Saturday's protests where she said the city "gave those who wished to destroy space to do that." On Monday night, she clarified her previous comments, adding that her words "should not be twisted."

Do you think the use of the term "thugs" is appropriate, or inappropriate? Vote in our poll below.

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